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Congratulations to the many SCO alumni who recently received recognition as leaders in Arkansas optometry at this year's Arkansas Optometric Association (ArOA) spring convention, held April 21-23, 2022, at the Statehouse Convention Center in Little Rock, Arkansas:
The following SCO graduates were installed on the ArOA board of directors on April 23, 2022:
Melia Robertson, OD ’10 – President
James Hertzog, OD ’06 – President-Elect
Alex Bell, OD ’09 – Vice-President
Joe Sugg, OD ’09 – Immediate Past President
Chevron Ergle, OD ’04 – Advisor to the Board
Rusty Simmons, OD ’83
Katie Brown, OD ’12
Justin Beavers, OD ’07
Sarah Lunsford, OD ’08
Barrett Brown, OD ’13
SCO alumni who received awards on April 23, 2022, include:
Young OD of the Year: Jessica Dinwiddie, OD ’11
Distinguished Service Award: Bryant Ashley, Jr, OD ’84
Special Service Award: Christina Vranich, OD ’09
Lifetime of Excellence Award: Robert Smalling, OD ’74
Lifetime of Excellence Award: Howard Flippin, OD ’59
Counseling patients of the need to comply with their glaucoma therapy and decades later while continuing their care they can still see me. Literally.
SCO was the first of the three acceptances I received. I thank God because while attending school there I met the lady who became my wife, what a blessing.
Passing my first big physics exam.
Dr. Glen Steele, Southern College of Optometry Professor, has been named to the Tennessee Independent Colleges and Universities Association Hall of Fame. TICUA and its member institutions selected 24 alumni, highlighting their contributions to the state, country, and world in a variety of disciplines. Dr. Steele is a 1969 SCO alumnus.
“Southern College of Optometry is very proud that TICUA has selected Dr. Glen Steele for its Hall of Fame,” SCO President Dr. Lewis Reich said. “For more than 50 years, Dr. Steele has distinguished himself through his teaching and sharing his pediatric optometry expertise with patients and colleagues around the globe.
The longest-serving faculty member in SCO’s history, Dr. Steele is now in his 52nd year at SCO. For more than 40 years, he also owned and operated his own private practice. His success in pediatric optometry has made him one of the nation’s leading experts on the subject. Through his role as one of the co-founders of the InfantSEE program, more than 140,000 children have received no-cost eye assessments to infants in their first year of life.
Dr. Steele is credited for advancing infant eye exams through his development of “just look retinoscopy,” a now-common procedure in optometry practices by which doctors gauge visual development in children who otherwise cannot articulate how well they see.
In addition to making a difference in the lives of pediatric patients and mentoring thousands of eye doctors, Dr. Steele has also devoted volunteer service through the years to numerous programs, including the American Academy for Human Development, the Memphis Association for Children with Learning Disabilities, the American Foundation for Vision Awareness, and the Tennessee Special Olympics, among others.
His leadership roles include serving as President of the College of Optometrists in Vision Development, President of the Optometric Extension Program Foundation, Chair of the InfantSEE program, an International Ambassador for the Southern Educational Congress of Optometry International, on the World Council of Optometry’s Education Committee, and as Chair of the Vision Care Section for the American Public Health Association.
Among his notable other awards, Dr. Steele was inducted into the American Optometric Association’s Optometry Hall of Fame. He received the President’s Award from the AOA and the American Foundation for Vision Awareness, the Optometrist of the Year from the Tennessee Association of Optometric Physicians, the Lifetime of Service Award from Prevent Blindness Tennessee, the William Feinbloom Award from the American Academy of Optometry, the G.N. Getman Award from the College of Optometrists in Vision Development, SCO’s Lifetime Achievement Award, and the Top 10 Optometrists of the Decade distinction by Optometric Management magazine, among many others.
“We launched the TICUA Hall of Fame last year to honor the accomplishments and impact of graduates and the institutions who helped to prepare them,” said TICUA President Dr. Claude Pressnell. “We are proud to once again recognize an astounding group of alumni who have made significant contributions to their institutions, communities, and society. Their stories are worthy of recognition and accolade and, on behalf of our member institutions, we are proud to offer this small token of our appreciation for their achievements.”
At SCO’s Fall Homecoming and CE Weekend, the college formally recognized two outstanding alumni for their accomplishments. Posthumously receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award was the late Jeff Foster, OD ’81, and receiving the Young Alumni Award was Jon Reid, OD ’12.
Dr. Lewis Reich, SCO President, presented each award during the Class of 2020’s commencement ceremony held at the Peabody Hotel after being postponed during the early days of the pandemic.
Lifetime Achievement Award recipient Jeff Foster, OD ’81, was recognized for his decades of leadership devoted to advancing scope of practice legislation in Tennessee. After his graduation from SCO, Dr. Foster joined the practice of Drs. Nathan Ford (’50) and William B. Henry (OD ’61), in Newport, Tennessee, where the practice was established October 17, 1950, by Dr. Ford. In subsequent years, Dr. Foster was joined by Dr. Kurt Steele (’95) and other SCO graduates in growing the practice.
Dr. Foster was a member of the Smoky Mountain Optometric Physicians, Tennessee Academy of Optometric Physicians, Tennessee Association of Optometric Physicians, SECO International, and the American Optometric Association. The Tennessee Optometric Association in 1984 named him the Young OD of the Year; in 1986, OD of the Year; and in 2014 the OD of the Decade.
He was a past legislative chair of the Tennessee Association of Optometric Physicians, an area where his legislative leadership earned him respect and appreciation from colleagues around the state. He was a past president of the Tennessee Optometric Association, Tennessee Academy of Optometry, and was a past Chair of the Tennessee Board of Examiners in Optometry. Dr. Foster served on the Courtesy/Consultative Staff of Tennova Hospital’s Newport Medical Center in Newport. He was a Diplomate of the American Board of Optometry.
At the local level in East Tennessee, Dr. Foster served terms on local boards and organizations including the election commission and public library. He also was a past president of the local Lions Club and Boy’s Club. Dr. Foster died of COVID-19 on August 28, 2020.
Dr. Kurt Steele was joined by Nora Cothran, OD ’13, and State Representative Jeremy Faison in accepting the award on Dr. Foster’s behalf. In their remarks, they remembered his selfless devotion to optometry and encouraged the Class of 2020 to continue participating in activities that will advance the scope of practice for the profession.
Also recognized at the ceremony was the Young Alumni Award recipient, Jon Reid, OD ’12. Dr. Reid practices at Advanced EyeCare Centers in Illinois.
Following his graduation from SCO, he completed a primary care residency at the Salem Veterans Administration Medical Center in Salem, VA. He is a member of the American Optometric Association and Illinois Optometric Association and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Optometry.
In 2021, he was named a recipient of the Partnership Award presented by the Hayes Center for Practice Excellence at SCO. Dr. Reid resides in Carlinville, Illinois, with his wife, Maya S. Reid, OD ’12, and their three children.
SCO is excited to welcome Theresa Cassidy, OD '18, back to campus, this time as faculty.
Dr. Cassidy and her husband live near the Pink Palace with their two daughters, ages 3 years and 2 months, and their bigger-than-the-kids Malamute mix dog. They like to take family walks at the Botanic Garden, the zoo, and Chickasaw Gardens. She and her husband enjoy traveling to attend music festivals and tent camping – in conjunction. They have been to see Dead & Company, Avett Brothers, Paul Simon, Austin City Limits, and Radiohead to name a few.
Having a mother who practiced ophthalmology at the VA inspired Dr. Cassidy. After earning her B.S. in Biology from UofM, she earned her O.D. at SCO in 2018 then completed her residency at the Memphis VAMC. Subsequently, she worked at Memphis Eye and Cataract Associates and Laser Center.
It was the sense of community Dr. Cassidy felt as an SCO student that inspired her to work as a consulting clinical faculty member in The Eye Center, and now, to join our faculty.